My third pregnancy came as a surprise. But this time I was more determined and ready to do whatever it took to avoid doctors and hospitals at all costs. So I did daily sessions of hypnosis and asked Gail back. Even though my disappointment and heartbreak over my daughters birth was immense, Gail left still believing in my body's ability to birth. So much so that she was again willing to travel halfway around the world again. We came up with the 'smile and nod' plan to ensure I had a record of proper by the book prenatal care. And that is what I did. I smiled when they said "of course you will have a C-section for this baby." I smiled and nodded when they claimed I probably had measles and should consider aborting my 20 week old fetus. (Surprise. A second blood test confirmed...it was probably just a cold.). Finally at 32 weeks I had smiled and nodded enough. I continued with my own prenatal care at home until Gail arrived at 40 weeks. We spent the week catching up, sightseeing and taking walks.
Finally I woke up one morning at 41 weeks 5 days with a funny feeling that "today was the day." I had some cramping in the morning, but nothing serious so the five of us set out to visit a winery. I had cramping and a few very looong contractions, but since I didn't notice a specific pattern I didn't let myself believe that this might be it. Back home around 5 pm, we started getting ready for supper. I was cutting vegetables and making rice when things starts picking up. Every 5 minutes during dinner I would get up and walk back and forth from the kitchen to the bedroom. I lay down and knew I wasn't going back to the kitchen; then I felt my waters pop. All of a sudden it was a bit of chaos; Gail was getting the birthing space ready and my husband was rushing to get the kids out the door to his mother's. But things became intense very quickly and my dilation went from a 6 to a 10 cm in just over an hour so my husband rushed back with kids in tow and the birth became very much a family affair. The kids were amazing, though a bit unsure about the birth. My son was a bit scared by the blood and asked Gail at one point how she "cut that hole" in me.
The rest of the birth did not go quite as quickly as expected. After two more hours of pushing my baby crowned at 9:43 pm and was born two minutes later at 9:45. We had a beautiful screaming 4600g (10 lb 2 oz) baby boy. I finally knew what it felt like to hold my newborn baby. Within 20 minutes of the birth my daughter brought out a book to read to baby Felix and I was euphoric. I could not come down off the high and spent the whole night just staring at this new little person. I finally did it. I finally got the birth I always wanted and knew I was capable of. That, however l, wasn't exactly the end of it.
Homebirth is legal in japan but it is always done under the supervision of a doctor and a larger hospital. Midwives cannot do any thing vaguely medical and can only assist a 'normal labour'. It also had not been done in our area for a very long time. So when it came to register our son for his birth certificate there were more hoops and more nodding and smiling. They wanted pictures of the birth to prove that we hadn't stolen the baby. They came to our home to interview and inspect. They asked Gail, my very experienced midwife, intelligent and thoughtful questions such as:
"How did you know that the baby was a boy or a girl?"
"How did you know what time the baby was born at?"
All answers were duly recorded and our son was registered just before the 14-day limit was set to expire.
After the birth I had time to reflect and compare my experiences. Natural childbirth was just as scary and, in some ways, as painful as a section. But after the C-sections there was such an emotional void. With the spinal I was unable to get up out of bed, to hold my babies or really look at them for the first 24 hours of their lives. It was a haze of drugs and the effort of trying to be the 'good patient.' In contrast, there was such a triumph to the birth of Felix; of welcoming of him into our family, both physically and emotionally. I felt everyone's love and support constantly and never once was afraid someone wouldn't listen to me, someone would take my baby away, someone wouldn't allow me to breastfeed him. It was what I had always wanted.
And now we are expecting our fourth baby, working towards another peaceful home birth with Gail, waiting and ready to catch her.
September, 2013, Miyazaki, Japan - VBAC Birth
If you you would like to discuss your wants and needs and how my services might satisfy them, call or, preferably, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gail Johnson, CPM, LM
Four Mile Lagoon - NW Highway, 89.2 Mile Marker
P. O. Box 251